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11b30b4 Tutorial Vacuum Forming and Dyeing lenses


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Several people have expressed interest in vacuum forming lenses for their Nico Henderson ROTK helmet. If you printed out the helmet, then making and dyeing the lenses is fairly simple.

You will need the following:

Vacuum Forming Machine- this seems to be the main problem for most people but for lenses you do not need a 24” x 24” machine or a $1,000.00 investment. Punished Props has a ton of videos on YouTube and in this your tube video they will show you how to make a cheap and small machine for less than $50.00.



Once you have made a Vacuum Forming Machine, you will need a cheap toaster oven like this one:



You will need a cheap electrical hot plate single burner stove like this one.





You will need an all metal (6 or more quart) stock pot like this one.



You need bailing wire or a few wire clothing hangers and something to cut the wire with.


You will need a pack of Jacquard iDye Poly Fabric Dye in Green. Most craft stores have this brand but if you cannot find it in the color you need, you can also use Rit DyeMore liquid in Peacock Green. Make sure its “DyeMore” not the regular Rit Dye liquid.


Next, you will need some .04” thick clear PETG plastic sheet. Do not use acrylic, because of the moisture in acrylic, it will have bubbles in it and will be hard to see through. For the PETG, you can get these sheets on Amazon in various sizes, just make sure you get a size that can be cut down to fit your vacuum former. A pack of 10 sheets 12” x12” should cost you $25.00 ish, but if you want a larger supply, its cheaper to buy a full-sized sheet from a plastic supplier. In Metro Atlanta, one supplier is Calsak Plastics. A sheet of 0.04” x 48” x  96” cost me $40.00 ish, and this gives me eight 24” x 24” sheets for my vacuum former.


Lastly, you will need:

Cooking Thermometer like this one: Or you could use a digital one, but you will need to take repeated temperatures. https://www.walmart.com/ip/ProAccurate-Cooking-Thermometer/22843133

Nitrate gloves

Xacto Knife and/ or Box cutter

Plastic bucket about the same size as the pot

Metal straight edge ruler or yard stick

Wooden paint stirring stick

Drill bits (1/8”) and a drill/ cordless drill

150 grit and 220 grit sandpaper

Filler putty, I used plastic wood filler this stuff: https://www.homedepot.com/p/DAP-Plastic-Wood-X-8-oz-All-Purpose-Wood-Filler-00541/206667345

Primer spray paint

A release agent such as Smooth-On Ease Release 200 spray or in a pinch you could try an aerosol cooking spray


The Nico Henderson helmet files comes with an eye buck file. If I remember correctly, the files only included one eye so you will need to copy and mirror the stl file. I printed these out in PETG with 25% infill and 4 parameters at 0.10 mm Detail.


Next, I wet sanded the bucks with 150 grit then 220 grit then I applied a layer of plastic wood filler. In this pic you can see the two sets of eye bucks along with two bucks for my Shoretrooper.




Once cured, I lightly dry sanded the bucks with 220 grit.




Next, I applied two normal and one final heavy coat of primer (10 minutes between each coat) and let them dry for 3 days.




Next, I cut my PETG to size using a straight edge and a box cutter. The PETG comes with a thin plastic cover on both sides of the PETG. Leave this protective cover on during the heating and forming. Only remove it once the lenses are done and ready to be dyed.




Next, I laid out my bucks on the Vacuum Former.




First pull, the TK lenses came out great but the Shoretrooper lenses not so much. See the webbing between the two Shoretrooper lenses, it comes up into the lens area.




I rearranged the bucks.




The second pull was successful.




Next, I cut out the lenses making sure to not crack them. I also leave some PETG tabs on the lenses, so I hang them. Use the drill and a small bit (1/8”) to drill out holes on the tabs to hang the lenses. Cut up some bailing wire to make a hanger, once you are satisfied, remove the plastic protective cover on both sides of the lenses. When you hang the lenses, make sure they do not touch the bottom of the pot and they stay submerged.




Next, I filled the pot and the bucket with enough cold water to cover the lenses.




With the lenses out of the water, place it on the burner and bring it to a boil then add the dye and stir till everything is dissolved. Turn the burner off and let the water cool to 130° F. Turn the burner back on to its lowest setting. You want a steady temperature between 130° and 140°. DO NOT GO OVER 150°. The PETG will deform and ruin your lens if you go over 150°.




Once you have a steady 135° ish temp, ENSURE you have removed the protective plastic from both sides of the lenses then place the bucks mounted to the bailing wire hanger inside the dye bath for 5 minutes. NOTE- leave the lenses on the hangers throughout the dyeing process.

Remove the lenses from the dye bath and rinse in the bucket of cold water, the tint should be light.

Again, place the lenses inside the dye bath this time for 10 minutes, then remove and rinse.

Lastly, place the lenses inside the dye bath for another 10 minutes, then remove and rinse. This should be dark enough for the TK. Remember the inside of your helmet will be dark, so the lenses do not need to be too dark. If you want them darker, just keep dyeing and rinsing for 10 minutes at a time until you get the desired darkness.


Once you are done with the dyeing, remove the lenses from the hanger and use dish soap to wash the lenses. Be careful not to scratch them. Cut them to fit your helmet and install them.





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